(CBS) - Survivor 41 is off to the races and "The Monster" wasted no time with two eliminations during episode one. For 23-year-old Sara Wilson it was a quick trip to paradise as she was the first member of the Ua tribe voted off following Eric Abraham's elimination from Yase earlier in the episode.
CBS' Matt Weiss spoke to Wilson about living out a dream getting to the island and the pressures of puzzle building.
MW- Hello Sara, I know you're probably not happy to talk to me, at least not this early on in the season but it's nice to see you!
SW- [Laughs] No it's all good, nice to see you too!
MW- You know you did accomplish something that not many people have or ever will just getting on the show. As you look back on your experience how do you feel even making it to the island?
SW- It's been a lifelong dream of mine and even though it didn't end the way it hoped I think back to the moments of getting the call I made it on, sitting on those boats going to the shore and those are now some of my core top 10 memories; no one can take that away from me regardless of that outcome. Honestly going during COVID too we didn't know if it was even going to happen. It could have easily not happened so I'm just so blessed and thankful to have been a part of it and that we were able to go out there.
MW- When you arrived on the island and took that first step on land what's that moment like?
SW- Honestly surreal. I mean I'm looking at the boat, I'm looking at Jeff Probst! I'm like, this is Jeff Probst, that's him! I'm not kidding I couldn't believe this was actually happening it's so surreal. It was a moment I thought about and was waiting for my whole life and I'm so happy it happened.
MW- Obviously you're a huge fan so you were familiar with the same, how did you prepare?
SW- I'm a big athlete, I was a water polo player and a swimmer so I really banked on that. I was like if there's just one swimming challenge I'm the girl for it; obviously you didn't really get to see me use it so that was sad. The mental preparation was there too though, I felt really solid about my strategies to be honest.
I knew how I wanted to play the game and it's also really hard to strategize beforehand because so much of it is dependent on the whole cast and who's on your tribe. It was also really about mentally preparing myself because I hadn't left LA in the entire year of the pandemic. Now all of a sudden I'm being flown out to Fiji, it was very jarring.
I just prepared myself for that and prepared myself for any of the outcomes that could have happened. Going out at the first tribal was like worst case scenario, but I feel like I set myself up nicely to know I can handle this.
MW- I hate to bring this up but clearly the puzzle during the immunity challenge was an issue. There are a lot of people at home who couch quarterback and say 'if I was there I could have done it' or 'how hard can it really be'. Now that you've been in those shoes, what's it like being in that high stress situation and trying to fit all those pieces together?
SW- You know, it felt like it was going well. Chen was emptying and I was putting them in and we had a really good rhythm with it, then all of a sudden it just melted. It's hard because I'm so competitive and there's so much pressure with Jeff Probst screaming at you, your teammates are trying to scream at you from behind you and it's so hard to stay level headed.
For us that one piece was so integral to connect the puzzle, it was a very difficult puzzle. I knew something was wrong and it was just hard to get past that. I feel like. But like you said as someone who is good at puzzles, I've definitely watched the show and thought it'd be easier. When you get out there you realize, oh my gosh, it's way harder than it looks I promise you.
MW- And then the chaos didn't stop there. You go a live tribal council and everyone is trying to figure out what to do next, what's going through your mind as everything is unfolding all around you?
SW- Honestly the live tribal was the best thing that could happen for me because the vote was pretty much locked on me before we went to tribal. I went into that tribal thinking, I'm 100% going to play my shot in the dark because I don't have any other chance. Then I kind of got this idea before tribal I mentioned to Chen and Ricard maybe let's do Brad.
Brad had put our names out and someone literally tells someone they're going home isn't someone you can work with in the long term. I was really trying to pitch for it because I felt like that was the only person I had leverage against. Nothing against Brad, I just needed it to be anyone but me.
When the whispers were happening, out of the back corner of my eye I saw Chen whisper to Ricard saying Brad. I knew they weren't lying to me but I also knew I wasn't safe.
MW- When that torch goes out and your time in the game is over did you at least take some solace being that close to Jeff as a big fan?
SW- I didn't even like acknowledge him [laughs]. I felt like I was so dazed, honestly I feel like I blacked out. I was just like is this really happening? You don't come to Survivor to get voted off one the first council, it's very disappointing.
I was very heartbroken, I was upset, but I knew someone had to go home. I feel like I carried myself with a lot of elegance, a lot of poise and it just is what it is. I'm still very proud of myself!
MW- I think I know the answer to this already but given the chance, would you go back out there?
SW- Is that even a question?! Of course! [laughs] Going out there and getting voted out early, it sucks but it's not the end of my story, it's the beginning. It's literally given me so much fire on the inside, I am just chomping at the bit to get back out there.
MW- Happy to hear it, you represented yourself very well out there and I'm sorry the game came to an end so soon but hopefully we'll see you back out there. Thanks for the time Sara and all the best moving forward!
SW- Thank you so much, you too!
Tune in for new episodes of Survivor 41 every Wednesday at 8:00PM ET/PT on CBS or streaming with Paramount+. Check your local listings for more information.
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